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Decision No. 15,979

Appeal of GEE-KANG DOUGLAS HWEE and SHIRLANE PAGTON, on behalf of their daughter KIELE HWEE, from action of the Board of Education of the Great Neck Union Free School District regarding residency.

Decision No. 15,979

(September 3, 2009)

Peter Menoudakos, Jr., Esq., attorney for petitioners

Frazer & Feldman, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Christie R. Medina, Esq., of counsel

HUXLEY, Interim Commissioner.--Petitioners appeal the determination of the Board of Education of the Great Neck Union Free School District (“respondent”) that their daughter, Kiele, is not a district resident entitled to attend its schools tuition-free.  The appeal must be dismissed.

In April 2007, petitioners purchased a home in respondent’s district (“Great Neck property”).  Petitioners enrolled Kiele in respondent’s district beginning with the 2007-2008 school year.  In January 2009, Kiele told her first grade teacher that she was late to school due to traffic and that she “lives with her grandpa in Queens and . . . does not live in Great Neck because the house is not ready.”  These statements caused respondent to commence an investigation regarding her residence.

In a January 16, 2009 telephone conversation with respondent’s registrar, petitioner Pagton admitted that the family was living outside the district while their house in Great Neck was under construction.  By letter dated January 23, 2009, respondent’s registrar notified petitioners of the district’s determination that Kiele is not a district resident.  In response, a meeting was held on February 4, 2009 at which petitioners submitted bills as evidence of their residency.  The next day, petitioners also submitted a letter from their contractor stating that construction should be complete within four weeks.

On February 13, 2009, respondent’s registrar issued a decision notifying petitioners that they were not district residents and therefore, Kiele was not entitled to attend the district’s schools.  Kiele was allowed to remain in school until March 31, 2009 and could remain in school after that date if petitioners established residence in the district.  Respondent upheld the registrar’s determination and this appeal ensued.  Petitioners’ request for interim relief was granted on April 2, 2009.

By letter dated August 18, 2009 respondent’s attorney requested permission, in accordance with §276.5 of the Commissioner’s regulations, to file a supplemental affidavit from the district’s registrar.  The affidavit states that, based upon receipt of a copy of the Inspection Report from the Town of North Hempstead and a subsequent home visit, petitioners are residing at the Great Neck property.

The appeal must be dismissed as moot.  The Commissioner will only decide matters in actual controversy and will not render a decision on a state of facts which no longer exist or which subsequent events have laid to rest (Appeal of Tine, 46 Ed Dept Rep 579, Decision No. 15,600; Appeal of N.C., 46 id. 358, Decision No. 15,532; Appeal of Lombardo, 46 id. 282, Decision No. 15,508).  According to the registrar’s affidavit, petitioners’ residency is no longer in dispute and Kiele is entitled to attend the district’s schools tuition-free.  Therefore the appeal is dismissed as moot.